Journalist Alex is meeting a whistleblower named Burke in a parking lot. He has a tale to tell about government abuse, not just of people but also of history. Understandably, he is nervous. He starts babbling, telling her that before he worked in government, he worked in advertising. Alexa, understanding how anxious he is, lets him babble.
Alex asks, “What would the Government do if they knew you were talking to a journalist?” “If I were lucky, they would kill me,” Burke tells her.
Maybe I’ve just gotten jaded, but this one was too predictable for me. The foreshadowing was about as subtle as a sledgehammer. I saw the tired X-Files trope of the government as some sort of brilliant master arch-villain behind the scenes, controlling everything. Unfortunately, the U.S. government functions about as efficiently as a group of quarreling grade-schoolers at recess. It’s only gotten worse in the last four years, with a dim-witted bully in charge, but that’s beside the point.
On the other hand, it is fun to speculate, as this story does, what might have happened if certain people had died sooner or lived longer than they did in history. And what did the government do to Abraham Lincoln? Author McGrance avoids the obvious here—Hitler doesn’t die in a tragic streetcar accident on his way home from grammar school one day.
While this story presented the reader with some fun things to think about, I found it disappointing overall.
According to his blurb, Christopher McGrane is an Australian author. He has written many pieces of fiction and has received politely worded rejection letters from some of the world’s most prestigious publishers, literary competitions, and dating agencies. Chris’ short stories have appeared in several publications in Australia, the UK, and the US. When Chris isn’t dreaming of literary fame, he has a perfectly sensible office job.
“Erasure” can be read here.
Author: Christopher McGrane
First published: December 28, 2020, Daily Science Fiction